Cavorite [$1.99] by Cascadia Games is another entry in the puzzle-platformer section of the App Store, only this time, the game takes place on the moon. The story goes like this: Back in 1898, a funky substance named ‘Cavorite’ was discovered, which could shield against gravity. The professor who discovered it built a spaceship, sprayed it with cavorite and ventured into space, to become the first man on the moon. Unfortunately, a bunch of green bug-eyed aliens, known as ‘Selenites’, emerged from underground. They abducted the professor and dragged his spaceship into caverns below the lunar surface. Luckily, the professor has escaped, but he now must repair his spacecraft, to escape the moon. The game is inspired by the H.G.Wells novel The First Men in the Moon, written in 1901. How’s that for retro?
As a platform game, Cavorite has plenty of stationary and moving platforms and conveyer belts to jump between, lava and spike-pits to avoid, lazer beams to block or deactivate, doors to unlock and assorted alien enemies to jump or defeat. There’s three varieties of alien to watch out for: ‘Guard Selenites’ are aggressive and carry spears, ‘thieving Selenites’ are kleptomaniacs who steal your ships parts if they reach them first, while ‘pusher Selenites’ move any crates in their path, which may either help or hinder. My favorites are the deadly moon-beetles, which crawl around platforms and inflict instant death if touched. The enemies can be killed by crushing with crates which turns them into green goop, forcing them into spikes or pushing them into molten lava.
While the title is solid as a platform game, It’s the puzzle-solving and level-design where this game really shines. There are crates which must be pushed, dropped or even flown into position, to complete each level. The professor is armed with a cavorite gun which causes objects or enemies to float. You can spray cavorite on an object to make it rise, perhaps to activate a button above or to drop on an alien’s head once the effects of cavorite wear off. You can also make a crate float, then grab hold of it, to be pulled into the air. Once air-bound, you can maneuver the floating crate (and yourself) left or right. This is a useful way to reach higher platforms, to transport crates to other parts of the screen, to activate buttons or to block lazer beams. The puzzles make you stop and think, as you often need to plan your strategy for completing the level. Things are moving around on the screen, so sometimes you need to act quickly before your exit is blocked or a thieving alien steals a part required to repair your ship.
Cavorite delivers plenty of gameplay in three chapters (63 levels). Each chapter features a different pixel-art landscape and it’s own boss battle. Gold or silver stars are awarded for each level, based on time taken. If you get stuck, a level can be skipped after a few unsuccessful attempts. There’s even Game Center achievements and an online leader-board for fastest game-completion times– Screenshot grabbing and tweeting are built in. The developer knows all the puzzles and can beat his own game in 24 minutes and 9 seconds, which is an insane time for hard core gamers to beat. For most of us, the game will provide hours of gameplay, which is probably why the music got stuck in my head, in a good way.
The App Store is a smorgasbord of awesome games, so it’s easy to jump from title to title, having a wee taste of each. But a nibble of Cavorite isn’t enough, for the puzzles are enticing, without being too difficult, so you’ll want to keep playing until you escape the moon. The well-designed puzzles and ability to float objects, all within a physics-based platforming game, with retro pixel-art and a nod to H.G Wells, is a winning combination.